Could you imagine wearing an armor made solely from the scales of fish? Unless you're friends with Frodo Baggins or you have an extra shirt of mithril in your closet, this may be the closest thing to flexible body armor.
Piranha have a well-earned reputation for being able and willing to eat just about anything in their path. One of the few exceptions is the Arapaima, a six-foot long, 300-pound Amazonian predator with bony scales capable of withstanding the toothy onslaught. Researchers are now working to adapt the Arapaima's defenses to protect our own squishy bits.
Its scales are composed of a hard, corrugated outer layer over a pliable layer of collagen. What's more, the fibers that make up the outer layer are arranged in alternating directions—like a parquet floor. This allows the scales to flex as the fish swims and spreads a piranha's bite force out over a larger area, preventing the piranha's teeth from penetrating.
"The materials that nature has at its disposal are not very strong," said Meyers, "but nature combines them in a very ingenious way to produce strong components and strong designs." The research team hopes to develop these durable-yet-flexible plates to one day replace the conventional flat plating in soldiers' body armor.”
Aquaman would be so proud. Finally, a scientific discovery that the King of Atlantis could actually boast about and say, "That’s the same armor I use." Or, could it be called Namor Armor? Never mind, carry on . . .